Saturday, June 14, 2014

A stunning day on the water

I guided my old client and friend, Shaun Daniels from Wimberly yesterday. The wind was low enough to allow for "glassy" conditions early, so we started on the west side where I'd been finding tailing pods early in the day. We hadn't even reached the area when we moved a school of reds and several pods away from the intruding boat. So I shut down immediately and let the fish settle down. Within a couple of minutes, there were pods tailing as close as 75 feet from the boat. Of course, we weren't ready, but once I was up on the platform and Shaun was on the deck, we had some serious choices to make; that is, which of six or eight pods would we pole toward. The fish were larger than usual, so the big tails waved in slow-motion above the sheen of the calm water. But they weren't easy! Indeed, Shaun would get no more than one cast to the tails before they would slowly move away, and set up business 100 yards away. So it was especially challenging for Shaun, who had been practicing his cast every day on the football field near his house, but hadn't casted to a live fish in a year or so. But there were no complaints from him. You can always tell a true angler, because he's always looking at what he can do better, rather than how the fish or mother nature could have made life easier for him.

But one reason the reds were so sensitive is because of the full moon the night before. Even though reds will feed at daybreak after a full moon, they are exceedingly sensitive and will spook at the sound of a pin drop for the first several hours of the day. I have observed this phenomenon for decades. Only a precision, unobtrusive cast will draw a strike, and that's hard to orchestrate in dead calm conditions.

We went to another venue north of the mouth of the Arroyo, and poled a shoreline that doesn't see many boats, given its remoteness. Almost immediately, we saw a huge push in our direction. "Is that a red?" Shaun asked. I was a bit incredulous, too, because as we got closer, we could see that it was well over 30 inches, perhaps 32. And yes, it was a red all right. Shaun made a credible cast to it as it passed us, turning and shining in the morning sun without ever seeing us--or the fly, as it turned out. Minutes later, we had another close encounter with another oversized red (above 28 inches). This time, the big fish fled before Shaun could get the fly to it. And then, once again, as if we were dreaming, we saw a wake coming from 40 yards away. This time, a 27-28" trout swam right up to us, but clearly saw the boat as she sauntered by. Shaun's cast was close, but she wasn't in the mood for accommodating us.

We headed for the sand earlier than usual, about 9:30, and opted to wade. We spotted several reds feeding upwind, but they were especially sensitive and spotted us beyond Shaun's (or anyone's) casting range. Then we headed up toward the East Cut, and fished for a couple of hours under a cloudless sky. It looks like the Bahamas in that are, and Shaun had numerous shots at reds feeding upwind. We walked over to one of my favorite places, where reds mingle with mullet along a crystal clear drop off. It was eye candy to watch the reds and ladyfish and mullet milling around in gem-quality water while Shaun tried to pick of the reds when they came up on the flat over the lip of the drop off. Shaun shocked three reds in the area before we packed it in, but felt he should have caught several more.

Later, when heading back toward the Arroyo, I opted to check out the easternmost part of the sand, and found enough reds to justify a wade. We waded for about an hour there, and landed two nice reds--one about 26"--after spotting several more. It was a great day, and Shaun will be back in July for two more.

I'm sorry I left my camera at home! Stay tuned for more.

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